Wednesday, February 20, 2013
An old friend e-mailed me:
"I read your blog every day and while I enjoy it, you make spelling and grammar mistakes that would make your fifth grade teacher blush."
What? I couldn't believe it. I never make mistakes. What's she talking about?
I reread some posts. Ouch. She nailed it; they contained errors. Humbling myself, I asked her ( a former legal secretary) to please edit my work. The posts take more time and effort, but the customer gets a better product.
Because writing and publishing is so easy, anyone can and does publish anything. If you want to rise above the others, you must deliver a product superior to your competition in every venue.
I remember a book- a thriller- that contained a mistake. The protagonist in chapter ten brought a coat, and in chapter eleven adjusted the heat in his car because he'd forgotten his coat. What happened? It took me out of the story. Instead of enjoying the read and getting emotional connection with the tome, I said, "What? Wait a minute..."
I remember that mistake, yet these days there are myriad numbers of mistakes, typos, formatting errors and just plain bad writing that it's commonplace.
It is more important than ever to produce first class, high caliber work, and not just manuscripts. Your e-mails, proposals, even your Facebook posts should be of good quality. I believe you should even deliver better texts than the norm.
When your manuscript is complete, are you really ready to send it? The agent said to e- mail it, no editing necessary. Get it edited anyway. Take the time, spend the money, and stand out. Agents complain that prospective authors send work with candy, gifts and silly trinkets to stand out. They stand out all right. But a well presented manuscript will stand tall above the mediocre.
An agent reads hundred of pages of work every month and if she seas a mistake, it drives her crazy. In the spirit of 'show don't tell,' did you notice my misspelling in the last sentence? Of course you did. And what did you say/think? "That hypocrite, he talks about writing well, then prints a typo." It took you out of the post, and some people would just click away to another bright spot. Take note that Spell Check wouldn't have caught that word. I spelled it correctly, but used the wrong word. If you missed the spelling error, you may want to take some English classes. Seriously.
That's the challenge of modern writing. People can drop you at the least provocation. You've done it. Have you read a post or article and clicked away halfway through? Why? Because you're overwhelmed with data, and much of it isn't worth your time and attention. Make sure your writing is worth the reader's investment. It could be the difference between a royalty check arriving in the mail and not.
Tune in March 11 for 'The Business of Writing.' I've operated ten businesses in my life, so it will be fun.